Put on your walking shoes, pack some sunscreen and a big bottle of water, because we're going for a wander. Sydney is surrounded by so much incredible bushland and rugged coastline that's just begging to be explored. Many of these overnight walks are close to the city, but — if you're really lucky — you'll spot some incredible wildlife, score some solitude and feel like you're a million miles from civilisation.
Most of these walks are achievable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness, but make sure you take safety precautions — heaps of police stations will loan you a locator beacon for free, and you should always pack basic first aid gear. Otherwise, all you need is camping equipment, a warm waterproof jacket and an adventurous spirit.
This 26km walk takes in some of the most spectacular cliffs and coastlines you'll see in Australia. Jump on the Bundeena Ferry south of Sydney and head south along the coast to Otford. On the way you'll spot a huge variety of birds, have the opportunity to swim at seven different and gorgeous beaches and if you hike between May and October, be able to watch whales having a splash around as they migrate. You'll need to book a camping permit through National Parks to stay at the North Era campground, which has very basic facilities.
The walk itself isn't too strenuous with only a few climbs and descents, just make sure you pack a hat as there is precious little shade along the way. At the end of the walk it's easy enough to jump on a train at Otford and head back to reality — though we won't blame you if you want to stay on this coastline forever.
So if you just want to visit this incredible glow worm tunnel in the Blue Mountains you could just park nearby and walk in — but that wouldn't be any fun now, would it? We recommend you drive to the town of Newnes (about three hours from Sydney) and park in the fantastic and well-appointed campsite by the Wolgan River. Set up your tent and then it's roughly a four-hour round trip to visit the glow worms which live in a 400m stretch of an abandoned railway tunnel. The 9km walk in and out is pretty easy, just keep an eye out for the sign along Newnes Road and don't stress about which fork to take when the track splits about 200m along — it's a loop so either way will get you there.
Make sure you bring water and a torch as it gets bloody dark in the tunnel. But if you turn off the torch and wait in silence for a little bit, the wormies will start their magic pretty quickly.
You know what's better than a hike? A hike that involves an optional paddle in a beautiful tree-lined river. This walk which starts at the end of Pierces Pass Road (near Bells Line of Road) descends the walls of Pierces Pass with truly stunning views, and then moves through the lush forests and skyscraper trees of Grose Valley. Camp overnight in amongst the towering blue gums at Acacia Flat — just don't forget to pack your swimmers because there will be multiple opportunities to have a paddle in the refreshing Grose River along the way. It's about a six-hour hike each way so there's plenty of time for a picnic lunch and swim. Every time we've done the walk we've spotted rock wallabies, lizards and birds whose calls can be all but deafening, especially around sunset.
If you're cool with a bit of rock scrambling and ready to get sweaty, then the hike into and out of Mount Solitary will be right up your alley. Park at the top of the Golden Staircase at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and descend 800m or so to the valley floor, where you'll be able to see the Three Sisters from a whole new angle. From there it's an easy stroll to the Koorowal knife edge, with an optional lunch detour to the Ruined Castle rock formation along the way.
It's at the start of the edge that things get a little more interesting. It will take most people a solid hour of climbing and rock scrambling across the ridge to reach the summit — but the views every step of the way make it worthwhile. Keep an eye out for arrows to make sure you're following the right path. Camp overnight in Chinaman's Gully, which has cliff overhangs in case of bad weather, and multiple spectacular lookouts. The return trip is a bit easier, right up until you hit those steep Golden Stairs on the way back up.
Originally a horse trail connecting Sydney and the Blue Mountains with Jenolan Caves, this hike can be done in two days, but might be easier spread out over three days and two nights. While there are a couple of fairly steep sections (mostly at the start, as you descend from Katoomba into the Megalong Valley), this walk is graded as medium-to-hard only because of its length. At a shade under 45km, the Six Foot track is indeed a decent distance, but very achievable if you have good shoes and appropriate camping gear.
The hike starts at the famous Explorers Tree, meanders through the stunning Megalong Valley, skirts through a winery or two. It also passes by several creeks and rivers, so drinking water isn't a huge issue as long as you treat or boil it first. There are two very easily accessible campsites along the route at Coxs River and Black Range, and the reward of the majestic Jenolan Caves at the end of the trip is just magical. Best bit? There's an afternoon minibus that will ferry you and your tired feet back to Katoomba from the caves.